U.S. and German Soldiers partner at gun range

Pvt. John Hudspeth
21st Theater Support Command

***image1***Soldiers of the 21st Theater Support Command recently traveled to Koblenz for the German military’s “Schuetzenschnurr” qualification range, where more than 50 U.S. and German Solders joined to train on each others’ respective weapons.

After 14 years of deploying together in support of peacekeeping missions, the ultimate goal of the German and American partnership is to reinforce the ability to interoperate, said Lt. Col. Gerhard Kerfin, 21st TSC’s German liaison officer.

The range partnership is billed as an opportunity to provide international cooperation and as a chance for both armies to improve relations.

“There’s a feeling of being united after training together. We watched each other, and it brought more understanding to everyone involved,” said Pfc. Joshua Bentzel, 21st TSC intelligence analyst. “I really feel like we’re doing a good job together.”

German Sgt. Mario Wlost explained how the Soldiers needed to make immediate adjustments to their unfamiliar surroundings and new weapons.

“Most U.S. Soldiers have never seen these German weapons before and it’s difficult to have proficiency in a weapon you’ve held for 15 minutes,” said Sergeant. Wlost.

Naturally, Germans encounter the same problem with the American weapons, he said.

In order to qualify, Soldiers needed to perform proficiently in each mandatory range. Each weapon and its individual range held different qualification requirements.

U.S. Soldiers fired the German G-36 assault rifle, P-22 pistol and the MG-3 machine gun. The Germans fired the M-16 assault rifle and the M-9 Beretta.

German qualifiers received U.S. Army medals at the Marksman, Sharpshooter or Expert levels. While American qualifiers received the German marksman badge — the “Schuetzenschnur,” which means gunner’s rope — in bronze, silver or gold.

“The rope looks great on our Class A’s,” said Private 1st Class Bentzel. “It’s something you can’t get anywhere else but Germany, and I can wear it on my uniform for the rest of my life.”